Did you know that 37% of all marketers claim the hardest part of their jobs is prospecting? Finding new leads can take a lot of time, patience, and resources. Without a concrete plan in place, success isn’t guaranteed. Which is why a scientific approach to marketing is an absolute must. 

In this guide, we’ll cover marketing funnel basics as well as how you can set up your very own lead generation machine based on examples from leading brands. But first, let’s review your big-picture goals and how to achieve them. 

How to increase B2B sales & learn more about your customers

Did you know that B2B companies that have a strategic lead generation process in place earn a whopping 133% more in revenue than companies that don’t? It’s true! The three main components of any great sales practice include: 

  • Message and value proposition. Knowing why your customers buy your products helps to maximize every unique point of contact. 
  • Customer segmentation. Identifying your highest ROI customer groups streamlines marketing and sales decision making. 
  • Funnel marketing. One or more strategic customer journeys that combine the above components into a repeatable process that can be measured, analyzed, and improved upon. 

Once a product or service goes to market, you’re forced to react to who is buying it and what they think of your brand. Which is exactly why funnel marketing, an empowering, internally constructed sales and marketing tool, is so vital to holistic business practices. Here’s everything you need to know to get started creating or polishing your very own corporate marketing funnel. 

B2B marketing funnel 101

A funnel in marketing, as we’ve already mentioned, is a tool that can be used by virtually any business within any industry. Besides improving branding and guiding your marketing strategy, a time-tested funnel effectively persuades new, high-ROI leads to convert faster and more often.  

Depending on what model you use, you’ll find that there are anywhere from 4 to 7 steps in a marketing funnel, but here are the 4 standard phases we’re focusing on: 

  • Awareness. Maybe a prospect read your Tweet, heard good things from a friend, or received an email from your sales team. No matter how they are connected, the awareness stage begins the moment they first hear about your business. While you can’t control every facet of your public image, you can actively create content that is both relevant and extremely useful or interesting for your target audience. 
  • Interest. This stage sometimes happens immediately after awareness. Usually it involves the customer consuming more of your content, seeking additional information about your products, and volunteering their email or phone number to your marketing team for future communication. This stage can last anywhere from minutes to years. 
  • Decision. Once they’ve interacted with your brand in person and/or online a few times, it’s time to dig deeper. This is when you begin touting benefits you offer over your competitors, offering deeper insight into pricing options, and presenting solutions that were tailor-made for their specific needs. 
  • Action. Now that they know your products and trust your brand, they’ll be able to see their purchase as a worthwhile investment. Over time, customers who receive great service and gain a lot from your product will keep coming back. And, ideally, they’ll also tell all their friends or colleagues about it, turning one great converted prospect into a new lead magnet. 

These phases make up the outline for any funnel in marketing, but when you’re creating a marketing strategy based on these principles, you’ll have to consider where each customer is within the process.

The main marketing funnel levels

How you approach lead generation and client relationships will be different at every level. 

Upper-funnel marketing

Also known as top-of-funnel marketing (TOFU), upper-funnel marketing is aimed at drawing leads in and getting them interested in your brand. These initial points of contact must be accessible enough to appeal to a wide audience, but they also have to be specific enough that they draw in the right demographics. It’s a delicate balance and must be achieved in order to maximize lead ROI. 

Upper-funnel marketing tools include search engine ads, podcasts, and social media. These materials will cover a broad range of topics that are most useful to your target audience. They won’t necessarily pitch — or even mention — your product directly. Instead, they’re meant to provide support, information, or helpful ideas to your new leads with the goal of eventually earning their business. 

While it can take a significant amount of time and money to keep up with these types of campaigns, it’s worthwhile if you have clear goals and concrete data. Businesses that make the investment enjoy benefits like higher brand value as well as consistent, long-term lead generation results. This is especially true if you choose to focus on evergreen pieces that can serve as lead generators for years to come with minimal to no effort after they’re published. 

Middle-funnel marketing

The middle of your funnel (MOFU) is all about combining marketing and sales in a way that will eventually propel leads into the action phase. At this point, people are aware they have a problem and are looking for ways to solve it. How businesses handle the relationship between departments will vary, but for the most part, the sales team can help shape messaging and take care of leads once a customer starts asking or commenting about product/service-specific topics. If your sales team is on the smaller side, you may even want to keep this within the marketing department as well. Just make sure everyone is on the same page about any new developments or sales strategies that can affect how marketing interacts with leads. 

This level of the funnel also can be used to check in with your lead generation goals and redefine what a high-ROI prospect looks like to your company. As new data is captured and measured, you’ll be able to hone in on more specific demographics. Plus new product upgrades, features, or offers will appeal to some groups more than others, so you can use this time to prioritize leads based on the latest information. As you can already tell, this section is more of a dynamic process than TOFU. 

The benefits of crafting your middle-funnel marketing process include obtaining a ton of consumer research. By now, you’ve gathered information from a variety of campaigns across many different platforms, learning things like what types of email newsletters most engage your audience, what keywords leads use to find your products, and a whole lot more. Armed with even more specific and actionable target-demographic knowledge, marketers can begin triggering their leads into action.  

Lower-funnel marketing

Lower-funnel marketing, or bottom-of-the-funnel marketing (BOFU), begins the final stage of evaluation and offers some great opportunities to transform your prospects into paying customers. At this point, people are aware of your brand, understand the problem you solve, and are making the final decision of whether to choose your solution or not. 

Lower-funnel marketing is all about nudging the buyer with compelling content and offers that will help them make the decision to go with your product. Instead of broad or general topics, you’ll want to focus on helping your prospects answer very specific questions or overcome any logistical hurdles that could get in the way of the sale. 

Now that we know the stages involved in a funnel and what each of the levels represents, let’s take a closer look at different types of marketing funnels from well-known brands and how you can recreate their success at each phase. 

Our 3 top full-funnel marketing examples from leading brands

The examples we use here were chosen because they were publicly recognized for their excellence, displayed repeatable processes that outline the discussion above, and combine to make up a diverse set of ideas. 

1. Dropbox’s Marketing Dynamix

What they did: Dropbox impressed B2B marketers worldwide by winning over 2,000 fresh leads and almost $10 million in revenue from just this one funnel. Originally created by Pulse for the brand, their new campaign What kind of marketer are you? brought in an audience they had never considered before: marketers. Even though they didn’t know where to begin with this new demographic, they put together a highly engaging and interactive funnel that netted them new business and at least one major award. 

Here’s what they did to supercharge their lead generation with previously unexplored target market: 

  • Awareness
    Pulse and Dropbox identified one key need all marketing teams have — the need to collaborate efficiently and effectively. It seems simple at first but marketers are often unable to accomplish it in any measurable or consistent way. That’s why Marketing Dynamix, a personality test scientifically engineered to assess team dynamics, is so valuable. This highly unusual solution was shared through social media channels, and, because of how unique the concept it is, it became popular very quickly. 
  • Interest
    After audiences were drawn in, they could also access a 20-page-long “self-portrait” report that would explain more about their work styles and offer suggestions for how to maximize it.
  • Decision
    They then paired the previous materials with powerful video testimonials from current clients who were happy to share how the brand helped their teamwork together better than ever before. Those current clients reflected the job title and needs of Dropbox’s target funnel demographic. Each one helped better explain the benefits and uses of Dropbox’s (at the time) little-known Business features. 
  • Action
    And the final point of this campaign ended with a frictionless CTA, asking participants to sign up for Dropbox Business. 

Why it works: Although they didn’t have existing B2B marketing analytics from this demographic, they were able to identify a need, create a memorable solution, and promote it in a way that appealed to their desired audience. Then, they gave them a second, more valuable and detailed tool. After that, they helped viewers associate Dropbox with fixing their biggest pain point and providing information they didn’t even know they needed but could really use through both free and paid resources. 

Main takeaways: 

  • It’s possible to set up a funnel in marketing for a customer base you’ve never targeted before. 
  • Choosing one clear and straightforward problem to solve for your audience is a great way to bring in new leads.  

2. Purina’s Pets at Work

What they did: Purina is known for its excellent video content. Not only are their stars both fuzzy and adorable, their often unique point of view helps their marketing content go viral. When Purina decided it wanted to find more B2B audiences, they launched a lead generating campaign that appealed to animal-loving HR managers. The video series, “Pets at Work,” received an Honorary Mention from LinkedIn’s 2018 Marketing Awards and net the brand more than 100,000 views on YouTube alone. 

  • Awareness
    The “Pets at Work” video series featured corporate HR employees with their pets talking about the benefits of allowing animals in the workplace as well as tips for how to help facilitate the process. Instead of relying on expensive TV advertising, Purina opted to invest their budget into paid social media boosts. They also shared their videos to their LinkedIn Showcase Page, enhancing organic engagement numbers. 
  • Interest
    Their emphasis on the emotional value of pet ownership was aimed at B2B audiences but appealed to a wide set of viewers, making it easy to spread their message quickly. To specifically cultivate interest with HR professionals, they went on to share interview videos with people who work in that department, providing clear evidence that it’s not just a great concept, it’s actually quite practical too. Additionally, Purina made sure to add a unique page to their website, filling it with all the tools, guidelines, and resources an HR professional would need to implement a program like this one. 
  • Decision
    In their tips and checklists for HR representatives interested in proposing a pet-friendly office policy, Purina made sure to emphasize their Pet Gear products and food options, all of which are necessary to keep your animals happy, healthy, and entertained as you go about your work for the day. If a lead was interested in helping pet owners bring their furry friends into their offices, the decision to stock the necessary supplies from this brand would be a no-brainer. 
  • Action
    Whether it was the downloadable toolkit, the informative FAQs, or the gated newsletter sign-up option, HR professionals who took advantage of these resources also purchased the many B2B pet-related product packages offered to them through the site. 

Why it works: While Dropbox used their marketing funnel to fill an existing need, Purina chose to create one. Their heartwarming video campaign was cost-effective because they chose to exclusively share it online. And the associated landing page removed all possible obstacles to having pets at work and purchasing related Purina products to support the program. 

Main takeaways: 

  • Integrated campaign management is an absolute must for complex or layered lead generation funnel marketing strategies like the one in this example. Make sure you use a solution that allows your team to plan content, collaborate on tasks, and measure progress. Doing so will allow any marketing team the ability to track progress, monitor for success, and make on-the-fly adjustments that maximize investment. 
  • Lead generation marketing funnels are a great way to both create and fill a need for your high-ROI audiences. 

3. Arco’s “CE Is No Guarantee” 

What they did: The International B2B Marketing Awards praised Arco for this lead generation campaign, giving them the Gold award for their short documentary film that generated awareness around the safety and health of industrial facilities. The idea for the film came from Arco’s discovery of routine, unsafe, heavy-equipment-approval processes, which resulted in dangerous products going to market. What followed was a thought-leadership campaign that had a massive impact on both their industry and their lead generation efforts. 

  • Awareness
    Legal experts, safety regulators, and representatives from major brands were all featured in the documentary, bringing more credibility to Arco and the project as a whole. And because of the wide involvement of industry influencers, other businesses were more likely to learn about the campaign. Also, the exploration of a hot-button issue led to major safety overhauls in manufacturing, effectively making industry history and creating impactful change for the lives of those who had to use the previously unverified equipment every day at work. 
  • Interest
    In addition to the short film, Arco launched their Know Your Risk website, a brand asset that links users to the film, proudly features their expertise in safety, and provides a gated calculator that measures your own personal risk factor.  
  • Decision
    For gas and oil companies, becoming an internationally recognized leader in workplace safety is no small feat. But it was exactly what Arco did when they created this lead funnel. B2B brands got to witness real change in the industry, which makes the buying decision quite easy when evaluated against competitors who are routinely criticized for the high fatality rates of their employees. 
  • Action
    Once bought in, Arco customers benefit from sleeping well at night knowing that their teams are fully protected out in the field and from the related industry reports the brand regularly publishes. 

Why it works: When uncovering life-or-death emergencies in your industry, a documentary presents a perfect vehicle for covering a well-rounded exploration of the issue and for creating brand authority in a particular sector of the marketer. Choosing to tackle this hot-button issue rather than divert attention from it was a bold risk that paid off for Arco, a brand their customers can confidently say did the right thing. 

Main takeaways:  

  • Demonstrate industry leadership by creating a marketing funnel that challenges the status quo or exposes areas of weakness that affect employees, buyers, and everyone in between. 
  • Look at the reasons why your competitors are being criticized and find a unique way to show B2B customers that your brand has found concrete solutions to the very same issues. 

Now you’re ready to upgrade your funnel marketing strategy! 

Most of the tactics mentioned in this guide can be used as a foundation for your own funnel marketing technique. Whether you’re looking to overhaul your entire lead generation process or hone in on the details for your top-of-funnel marketing strategy, it’s good to consider examples like the ones mentioned above. Every campaign follows the same set of principles, making it easy to reverse engineer other marketing funnels, which is a great way to find inspiration for new and creative approaches. 

To recap, here’s an overview of what we discovered so far: 

  • If you want to improve your B2B sales, you must first develop a lead generation marketing funnel (or funnels) that can grab your target audience’s attention, instill trust, help them make informed decisions, and ultimately compel them to return for years to come. 
  • Upper, middle, and lower marketing funnel levels all come with their unique set of objectives and tasks. Each one feeds off the other, so having a full-funnel strategy in place is key. From there, you can build out marketing content, sales messaging, and other high-conversion activities.  
  • Examples of successful funnel marketing are all around you. Look closely at how leading brands get discovered, hold their audiences’ attention, and subtly persuade leads to become buyers. 

Crafting the perfect B2B marketing funnel takes a ton of collaboration and not just between the members of your marketing team. You may need to rely on the expertise of sales, product, engineering, design, etc. to pull off even the most complex marketing projects. Thousands of marketing teams around the globe trust Wrike to help them pull off even the most complex marketing projects. Are you ready to craft an impactful B2B campaign for your business? Start a free trial today.